Friday, January 28, 2011

Theater Review: 9 to 5 the Musical

Have you ever watched performers on stage and felt that everyone was giving it they're all, so much that maybe, just maybe, someone was holding a gun to their head? That's the feeling I got while watching the National tour of “9 to 5 the Musical.” It felt like Gay Vegas was on that stage with the bright colors and lights that there are parts that won you over, because if it hadn't then you could be killed off for not liking it by Dolly in her magic "Wicked" bubble.

The curtain looked like it's going to be recycled for “Tales of the City” the musical complete with pictures of Streisand and Donna Summer. We're then greeted by the ghost of Dolly Parton on a "Wicked" clock video screen to explain the story to us, as if it was going to stray from the movie. We are introduced to the three stars Broadway Star and three time Tony Nominee Dee Hoty as Violet Newstead the single mother who keeps getting passed up for a promotion. With the smarts, power belting, dancing, and complete with her own chorus line that I swear I kept thinking “Roxie” she should be the President of the United States and to make it a little bit more obvious the costumer seemed fit to dress each lady in the colors red, white, and blue, or pink on occasion.
We get next get introduced to Perky, Squeaky voiced Doralee Rhodes played as close to Dolly Parton as she could by Diana DeGarmo. I thought Ms. DeGarmo should have been given more freedom with playing the role because I saw some great hints of a young Carol Lombard. As anyone who knew her from American Idol, she was on Season 3 the year with Jennifer Hudson and she was first runner up to Fantasia and gave thrilling vocal performances of “Don't Cry Out Loud,” and “One Voice.” It was odd that one of the strongest belters got the soft ballad “Backwoods Barbie” which was “Coat of Many Colors Part II” but when given a chance to belt out she let that mighty voice roar out in songs like “Shine Like the Sun” and “Change it”
To complete our 70's version of girl power is Mamie Parris, who as Judy Bernly has the biggest growth arc and handled it with care and made you feel something for her. I thought her performance at the copier with “I Just Might” was touching, she was sexy in a tacky death fantasy, and power belted the hell out of her 2nd act show stopper “Get Out and Stay Out.” It's a manipulative song about how one can be on their own but sung with such growing power that it ends up as a full out vocal storm by Ms. Parris voice. I don't understand how she can do that 8 times a week.
As the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypercritical, bigot Franklin Hart Jr. Joseph Mahowald is everything the part is. The actor does the best that he can with a worthless role there most be something about Dabney Coleman that made you not realize how bad the part truly is.

As for the other office workers Kristine Zbornik steals her scenes as Roz Keith though I found her solo song “Heart to Hart” rather pointless. Maybe it was the younger prettier chorus line of Roz's dancing with a picture of the boss holding a fish. I felt more for her during her goodbye song 5 to 9. As the drunk office worker Margaret local favorite Jane Blass was over the top and hysterical and fit right into her surroundings. I thought Gregg Goodbrod's Joe who was an original addition to the musical was charming but against Dee Hoty there was a noticeable age difference.

I give it to the rest of the ensemble who moved the set around in supersonic speed, sang though lyrics that hve seen a better time period, danced, and sold this show for all it's worth because if they didn't, I have a feeling that video projection of Dolly that started and ended the show would have taken any one of them out with a shot.
At the end of the show the circle of Dolly sings 9 to 5 with the cast and makes the audience join in and then she asks everyone to tell their friends to go see the show and you get the feeling that you wished she put as much passion into creating a different version of 9 to 5, which in some ways the office world hasn't changed as much.
"9 to 5 the Musical" is playing at the Bank of America Theatre until January 30th. Friday has an 8:00pm performance, Saturday has a 2:00 Matinee and an 8:00pm performance and Sunday has a 2:00 Matinee and a 7:30 finale performance.
Ticket Prices are from $32 - $95
Box Office 800-745-3000
Running Time 2hrs 20mins; one intermission

1 comment:

Terry Oldes said...

Excellent review, Steve. I felt the same way, although I'll admit the Broadway version seemed much better in previews than the touring company.